Navigating LHS AP courses: A guide to the most popular classes

While there are many different and challenging advanced placement (AP) classes at LHS, there are also several simple tips and tricks to get you through them, to earn you that coveted exam score and final grade. (Jack Birmingham)

No high school would be complete without them. The College Board and college admissions officers love them. You’ll wear yourself out studying for a test on them in May.
Advanced placement (AP) classes – college-level courses that span over several subject areas – certainly aren’t going anywhere. What are the things you really need to know when you take an AP at LHS?

Social Studies:
Many highschoolers will encounter their first AP class here, as they are offered as early as freshman year. Good grades and teacher recommendations from middle school may land you in such a class as AP World History or Human Geography.
The tricky thing to remember about social studies classes is that they teach similar skills but apply them to different regions. For example, as the name suggests, AP World History will cover the world, while European History will rigorously focus on just the European continent. Junior year will often hit a little closer to home as students mainly take AP US History.
When it comes to AP social studies classes, a smart thing to do is increase your writing skills. A basic path may follow a format such as human geography freshman year, world or European history as a sophomore, leading into US history as a junior and capping off with government as a senior. But whether you follow this path or another, there’s a good chance that the essay questions will make up around 60% of your exam score. Knowing how to improve your contextualization, document analysis or complexity skills gets you that much closer to the coveted five on the exam.

For those that show exceptional prowess with numbers, an entry-level algebra, geometry or even precalculus class may not be enough to quite scratch that itch. For many, classes such as AP Calc BC, AP Stats, and AP Computer Science Principles are invigorating challenges.
“One thing people might not know is all of our tests and quizzes are open note,” said junior Eleni Rappa, an AP Calc student. “There’s so much stuff to remember and especially now that we’re studying for the AP test.”
Rappa started off with challenging honors classes, before she decided to step it up to an AP math class saying that she’s “taken honors precalculus and did well in it.”
The best advice one can follow when taking any AP math class is to stay on top of the smaller assignments. Not only will they prepare you for the challenging exams, but those extra homework points add a bump to your grade. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the retakes or MASH help either.

Learning a new language is no easy feat, but for those interested in learning more about different cultures – taking an AP language class can be especially useful. LHS offers AP Spanish and AP French for those interested in developing their language skills.
The prerequisites for both are taking all four regular and honors level classes at school or taking a placement test. No matter which language you choose to take, both are stark adjustments from regular language classes.
“[Regular language classes] are more vocab based. They’re a lot easier,” reflected junior Eric Vu, a current AP Spanish student.
Junior Shrawani Datar, who is taking AP French, has had a similar experience. “[AP French] definitely has more of an emphasis on speaking and conversational French,” he said. “We do a lot more written assignments as well.”
AP language classes aim to elevate your understanding of the language by taking previous experience and knowledge and building on it through practice and dedication.
It’s definitely hard to commit to taking an advanced placement language course, but the results can be very rewarding.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a pretty fun class,” Says Vu.
Not only are you learning a new language, but you are also immersing yourself in a whole new culture. You might make mistakes more often than in your other classes, but trust that practice makes perfect.
“Make sure you’re confident in yourself because in [AP languages], you’ll definitely make many mistakes as you’re learning. You might not understand something that you read the first time but it’s important to have enough confidence in yourself and know that even if you do make a mistake, you’ll do whatever is necessary to overcome that and do better in the long run,” Stated Datar.

Many assume that English courses are very straightforward and easy, and often expect to find the same level of ease in AP English courses. Due to this, classes such as AP English Language and AP English Literature can often be unexpectedly hard for students. For students who enjoyed their freshman and sophomore year English classes, taking AP English during their upperclassmen years can be a fun challenge.
AP Lang focuses a lot on English as a language. You will work on writing, structure, and argumentation, while also reading many non-fiction texts to develop these skills for use in in the real world. You will be writing multiple essays, all in preparation for the three that need to be written on the AP test. AP Lang is very critical-thinking based and is essential to developing good writing skills.
For those more interested in reading fiction-based texts as well as developing oral and writing skills, AP Literature may be the way to go. AP Lit focuses on texts and writing from multiple perspectives and cultures around the world. Although AP Lit requires several hours of extensive reading, it is extremely beneficial and develops necessary skills for the future.
Another route to take would be AP Seminar and AP Research. AP Seminar focuses on researching real world topics and developing presentational skills. Students learn to analyze sources and evaluate them, while also learning to considering issues from multiple perspectives.
For those really interested in researching a topic intensively, they have the option of taking AP Research after AP Seminar, where they can choose a topic to research and present on. Part of the AP Seminar test requires students to submit papers they write and presentations they give, differing from traditional AP tests.

AP science courses boast at once some of the most challenging and invigorating classes that LHS has to offer. Some people may be content taking a standard physics, genetics or anatomy course and there’s nothing wrong with that. Others, however, may want a career in STEM or even enjoy subjects such as math and science. Classes such as AP Physics may introduce new material and concepts, while the advanced placement version of chemistry and biology will instead grow knowledge of existing concepts.
Good numerical and data skills are often recommended for a science course. In fact, for some of the science courses, classes such as Algebra II may be required for completion beforehand or during the course being taken. Science courses also feature many hands-on labs and activities, everything from the classic egg drop from a balcony to the firing of a starter pistol to calculate the speed of sound waves.
Overall, a good idea for success in science classes is to brush up on math skills. Formulas and equations become a larger part of science as you advance through high school, playing an important role in a class like chemistry and only growing in value for many of the paths students take throughout their junior and senior years.